Get to know Lauren!
by Lauren Phelps on April 28, 2023
As Interviewed by Tina from The Planner Wire:
Can you tell us about your personal planning journey and how you found the planner community?
In 2014 I left corporate America, got married & started working in my family business. My new responsibilities required me to track the race, feed and training schedules of 500 derby horses. Know the owners, trainers, groomers and jockeys names, vehicles and likes and dislikes +++ manage a team of 8 crew, logistics for feed and grain, hay, straw and shavings deliveries and manage the rx locker for supplements and vitamins. It was a BIG change from my outlook calendar that consisted from 9-5, m-f!
The change from my stable corporate job to farm girl was in anticipation of some big life changes that were in the works and I needed the flexibility to be off in the afternoons. I realized really quickly that I needed a binder for coordinating the barn and life changes, it needed a calendar and LOTS of note pages.
I remember shopping at staples, covered in hay flakes in my ariats and ball cap, finding a bright floral binder and grabbed some loose leaf paper for it.I figured that I would just print a monthly calendar at home. I mean that's normal haha
That 'planner' didn't last long, it lacked the necessary structure for balancing farm and home, especially with a 5 & 6 years old. I decided that I did not want to remake the planner but that I needed something with some more planning area! I found Erin Condren and in a few days I was the proud owner of a vertical spiral coil bound planner that was bright and fun. I was so happy!
One rainy fall afternoon, I was traveling the dirt road between my 'office' and the barns and I crossed the track exit, horses always had the right of way but for some reason this particular day I did not see any horses exiting the track, I proceed to cross the rutted and muddy track and all of a sudden I heard the words 'Lauren watch out!!! Duckkkkkk! It was a jockey that had been thrown and was picking himself out of the mud to warn me that his horse was charging my gator. I got as small as I could manage & became a statue ... well my planner hit the ground and was in seconds covered in wet, nasty track muck. haha
When I got home that afternoon, Robert looked at me, my boots covered in mud, mud in my hair and holding a muddy planner in my arms and said, I thing you need a new book and a shower.
Then I found, at the time, Erin Condren planners gone wild and Amanda, Jen and all the OG's from before the birth of 'Planners Gone Wild'... It felt awesome to see that there were others that still had a lisa frank sticker collection and that stationery obsessions wasn't that weird after all!
Why did you want to start a planner shop? When did you know it was something you could do?
I don't know of any shop owner that said, hey, I want to learn how to hate silhouette and make stickers for a living, haha
Remember that rainy fall afternoon of tragedy? A few weeks after, I was in target dollar section and I stumbled on the last pink plastic accordion folder. I held it in my hand and looked at it and thought, I wonder if this could be used to protect my planner, from... job hazards? I invested the $1 and brought it home and chopped it up.
I was armed with a hole punch and some scissors, no fancy binding punch machines, just some good ole fashioned trial and error. I figured out that I could in fact use that accordian folder to create a wrap cover that had an elastic closure and was able to be wiped clean and not bang up the tabs!
I posted that image in the ECPW and I had several messages asking if I could make them one as well? I of course said just pay the shipping and the $1 for materials and I would get it to them. Well that lead to opening an etsy shop called 'paper problems'
after my first 100 sales, I knew that the planner community needed some 'fun'ctional items and I was ready to add some creativity to my life and took the leap.
Tell a little about the products you offer in the shop - the design process and how the collections are created?
Currently I offer about 500 items that are meant for adding functionality to the planner or items you are already using. The vinyl covers are functional, an upgraded homage to LPD roots and with pockets that other brands don't offer. From there we move to the multi function pencil board that is a writing backed for soft paper, a measuring too and a tab placement spacer to add top or side tabs Other functional items like precision tweezers, clena pens and adhesive pockets pair nicely with the side of LPD that is known to be pretty extra. The staple items they have to have more than one use. I put alot of time behind these items and make sure that they solve a common problem.
EX: My new Ultimate Storage system is top bound so that you can get it out the way and take up as little space as possible when open. It features ambidextrous tabs so that it is inclusive no matter how you like to set up a tabbed system. It can be used for sticker storage, washi storage or with the pockets can store a full roll of the LPD pet tape (because it is perforated and was made with storage in mind)
I think it is stepping back and looking at how items can be pretty and functional is an important part of how I design new and innovative products.
How has LPD evolved over the years and what do you see coming next?
WOW! Well, in 2017 I fell off a grain pallet in the barn and broke my ankle, it was a good time to step away from that job and focus on my health as I was also having issues there. At the end of 2016, I opened enrollment for a subscription box that ran monthly until 2019, just shy of the 4 year mark.
The subscription box was what opened my eyes to the possibilities of manufacturing, washi tape and things like clip art and digital art software! It has definitely changed from the little desk in my master to last year moving into a 700 sq ft warehouse!
There is A LOT in the works for 2023 and 2024, off the top of my head? I would like to have regular meets at the warehouse, in person shopping and open a watercolor studio in addition to expanding LPD into more of a lifestyle brand.
Will there be an LPD planner coming soon?
Ahh the question of the hour. I can say this, it has always been my intention to one day offer a planner.....
What has been some of your biggest accomplishments & challenges?
Balancing between 24/7 LPD and home life has been a challenge that I still have work to do daily. Managing my mental health and not falling into imposter syndrome or hyper-focusing on 1 task and not realizing that there are 20 other things that also need attention. Social media constancy. Shout out, if you are a social media guru slide into my inbox!
Having 5 consecutive box release sellouts is huge! I think there are 5 more of the 8th anniversary box, so hope that we can add a 6 there! Speaking at SGS 2022 and being recognized as an innovator and leader in this community was a high point!
Being asked to be a admin for the Planners Boss Collective sale group
Do you have any advice for others that may want to open a shop?
Find your why
Find your own style
Make clear terms of service
There is always room for what YOU have to offer!